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Carabosse as envisioned by Leon Bakst.

Carabosse is the name often ascribed to the wicked fairy godmother in the classic fairytale "Sleeping Beauty". She is named Maleficent in the 1959 Disney adaptation of the fairytale.

Carabosse is never given a proper name in either Charles Perrault's "The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood" or the Brothers Grimm's "Briar Rose". The name "Carabosse" comes from a similar character in a different fairytale - "The Princess Mayblossom" by Madame d'Aulnoy (who coined the term fairytale). Over time the name Carabosse was applied to the wicked fairy in "Sleeping Beauty", and she is named as such in Tchaikovsky's famous ballet.

Role in the story

Carabosse was one of the fairies who lived in Sleeping Beauty's kingdom - in Perrault's version, she is the eighth fairy, and in the Grimms' version, she is the thirteenth.

In Perrault's version, Carabosse was not invited because she had not been seen in a long time - some had thought that she was dead. She enters quietly and finds out that she cannot receive a golden casket to dine with like the other fairies, for the king had run out of them. The seventh fairy chooses to wait until Carabosse has given her gift to give her own. Carabosse curses the princess to prick her finger on a spindle when she is fifteen or sixteen - and die. Afterwards, the seventh fairy alters this to spare the princess - but she will sleep for 100 years before being awoken.

In the Grimms' version, the king only had twelve golden plates, which the fairies had to be served on. It was decided that Carabosse would not be invited. To spite this, she bursts into the castle and curses the princess (in this version, the incident will happen on the princess' fifteenth birthday). Unlike in Perrault's version, Carabosse outright interrupts the twelfth fairy. The twelfth fairy changes the curse from one of death to one of sleep lasting 100 years.

When the princess is fifteen years old, she is exploring the castle. She meets an old woman working with a spinning wheel. The princess pricks her finger on the spindle and falls into a deep sleep. In Perrault's version, the spinning woman is merely an ignorant but well-meaning old woman who had never heard the king's ban on spindles, though in many later versions (such as Tchaikovsky's), the spinning woman is Carabosse herself, disguised as an old woman to ensure the curse.

Carabosse's fate after the incident is unknown. The second part of Perrault's version features the Ogress Queen Mother (a separate character) as its villain.

Role in the ballet

Carabosse is well-known for her depiction in Tchaikovsky's ballet. Her depiction inspired the portrayal of Maleficent.

In this version, Carabosse is a frightening figure, accompanied by minions, whose presence is accompanied by thunder and ominous music. When she bursts into the palace and asks why she was not invited, she beats the Master of Ceremonies for forgetting her. Carabosse proceeds to curse Aurora, the newborn princess - the curse is the same as the Grimms' version, but on her sixteenth birthday. The Lilac Fairy spares Aurora - but Carabosse believes that she will kill the princess through the curse.

On Aurora's sixteenth birthday, Carabosse disguises herself as an old spinning woman. She arrives at her party and presents her with a spindle. Aurora pricks her finger on it and faints. Carabosse declares victory.

100 years later, when Prince Desire hears about Aurora and comes to rescue her, Carabosse tries to deter him. Prince Desire manages to defeat Carabosse with the help of the Lilac Fairy. Carabosse is never seen again afterwards.

The ballet proved to be very popular, and many elements (including parts of the musical score) were incorporated into the Disney version.